Every disappointment you have ever experienced will be a blessing to you in the future. Don’t give up and fight on until the end!
Dawn Freeman takes a vision and makes it a reality through comprehensive strategy development and tenacious ambition. She intuitively identifies an opportunity with purpose, evaluates its impact on a long-term goal or objective, develops a path to completion, and drives the opportunity and goal to the finish line. She is an inspirational leader whose passion and determination motivates and encourages others to step outside of their comfort zone and aspire to do more. Respected as a credible voice in business and on a personal level, Dawn earns a seat at the table wherever she serves.
Dawn is not a stranger to incarceration or recidivism. She has experienced several of her immediate family members go in and out of jail and prison over the years. Some of the stints of incarceration were due to poor decision-making, and some were due to the harsh realities of mental illness and their inability to stay motivated to get and keep their lives on the right path. Additionally, Ms. Freeman has several family members who dedicated 20+ years to law enforcement and corrections, which provides her with an even greater perspective on the challenges of pre-release programming and reentry, not just from the viewpoint of the incarcerated individual, but that of the corrections and law enforcement family.
Since 2008, Ms. Freeman has financially supported the reentry efforts of her church and local non-profit organizations. In 2016, Dawn expanded her community service efforts beyond a monetary contribution and began volunteering her personal time to a local reentry focused non-profit organization as a Facilitator. After engaging with individuals with backgrounds like her own family members and due to her decade long tenure in the corrections industry, the concept of The Securus Foundation was born. With the guidance and support of the Executive Team at Securus Technologies, The Securus Foundation is a reality.
Dawn holds an M.B.A. with an Accounting specialization and B.A. in Business Administration with a specialization in Management from Saint Leo University. She is the mother of three children, a product of a military and faith-based upbringing, and she is an active member of The Potter’s House in Dallas.
Where did the idea for Securus Foundation come from?
The idea of The Securus Foundation came to me during a really rough time during my professional career. I was very comfortable in my previous roles; however, after a number of disheartening events, I knew it was time for me to truly “own” my purpose. As I was praying one night, before preparing to step out 100% on faith, God gave me this idea, to use not only my personal experiences but my professional experiences to assist people who are still trying to find their purpose in life. The road has been rough, but worth it!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am typically up at 5am and immediately checking emails and text messages regardless of where I am. I depend on my Executive Assistant to help keep my schedule organized. In my previous life, I was a “To-Do list & I can do it” person, now I have to be a lot more thoughtful on which tasks I am going to address or delegate to my staff. Meetings, meetings and more meetings.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, I start by evaluating the idea to determine if it fits within my mission and goals. If it does, I invest more time and energy into exploring it. If it does not, I will pass it on to someone else who may benefit from the idea. Lastly, I look for ways to collaborate with other individuals who are more knowledgeable in that particular area if it is something I want to pursue within our organization.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I wouldn’t describe it as a trend, but I am a huge supporter of women and young ladies empowerment. As a young lady, I was smart, but I had extremely low self-esteem. Once I realized that I was responsible for my future, not everyone else, I started to thrive. I want to see that same light bulb come on for other girls and women.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t trust anyone else’s research but my own. This probably sounds harsh, but that was something that stuck with me from my undergrad years. I make the investment to understand root causes, how things work in concert with each other, and then the impact of any changes. I do this more often than not because I want to make the best decision I can with the information I have at the time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Your pain and suffering is not in vain. Every disappointment you have ever experienced will be a blessing to you in the future. Don’t give up and fight on until the end!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Giving people a lot of chances, or as I see it, grace. I’ve had several people come into my professional and personal lives that needed someone with a lot of patience to believe in them. Some people around me would have given up and moved on from them at the first mistake. However, I will not do that. Someone had to be patient with me and give me many chances to get it right, so I want to extend that same grace and mercy to others I come in contact with. Just understand, when I do back off, I have given a lot of chances to get it right. Even then, I only back up when I can admit that the status quo is detrimental for all parties involved.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I feed my mind and spirit with positive quotes daily. Its something I started doing several years ago when I was going through a really tough time in life. I found that the more I read the quotes, the more re-energized I became to take another step. Earlier this year, I started sharing what I use to feed myself on my social media pages. Some may think I do it for others, but I actually do it for myself, to stay encouraged and to keep going.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being observant and supportive. In any capacity that I have served, I have always paid attention to others needs and tried my best to bridge those gaps when humanly possible for me to do. Most people just want to be appreciated and supported and I love to do that.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I won’t describe it as a failure, but most definitely a life lesson. I believed in someone that used my good intentions for their own gain. It hurt me to my core, it even made me consider not doing this type of work when the first person I took underwing was a narcissist. But after much prayer, I realized that everyone is not ready to grow and just because one person was not ready, that does not mean that the billions of other people in the world would do the same thing. So, I kept going.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The business idea is to create an organization of directly impacted people to mentor probationers and parolees along side with the justice agencies.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I faithfully go to the nail salon to get mani/pedi’s. It is the one vice I cannot go without. My time at the salon is the one place where I can go and not think to relax and rejuvenate myself. If the spend was a little higher, an aromatherapy massage would be the best spend!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
American Airlines, Marriott, Hilton, and Rental Car apps are my lifesaver. I do not do good with printed travel itineraries, even though my Executive Admin always gives me one, I end up just texting her a million times if I cannot find what I’m looking for on my apps.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson. This book uses a really simplistic story to describe how fear and change can cripple someone. In order to get anything worth having, you must go after it scared!
What is your favorite quote?
“Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created” Esther 4:14
- Embrace the difficult moments in your life, that is when your creative energy is the highest.
- Collaborate, no one is the master of everything.
- Make the investment of time in yourself and your career, its worth it in the long run.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
- Read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese,” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. Don’t let the fear of change stop you from pursuing your dreams.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.